By Terry Trucco
At a glance: Forbidding is the word that leaped to mind when I first saw this cold, pink-stone skyscraper looming over Wall Street like the Ghost of Banking Past (the building’s previous tenant was JP Morgan Chase). But mother’s annoying advice about not judging books by their covers wins out here.
All vestiges of the building’s earlier incarnation have been swept from the bleached wood floors. And the Wall Street, a branch in Hyatt’s Andaz business-hotels-can-have-personalities-too boutique chain, often feels like a template for the hotel of tomorrow, with high-tech trappings, futuristic-cool surroundings devised by the savvy Rockwell Group and a hovering staff to dispel any residual skyscraper chill (this was one of the first hotels to greet guests at the door and check them in with small laptops).
The lobby sprawls, broken into discrete seating areas and flaunts the living room feel prized by contemporary hotels. Still, it’s showing its age a bit, and guests who are not registered at the hotel will not feel welcome. Wide white staircases whose sweeping lines call to mind the Sydney Opera House lead to what was once the bar and restaurant and is now reserved for private events. Dina Rose, the hotel’s congenial American Bistro on the ground floor, opens onto the lobby and includes indoor and outdoor seating.
The hotel is so open plan it’s almost open air, though much of the wall-free space was devised to make an office building hospitable. But in a city where space is a premium, elbow room is always welcome. And the Andaz knows its place: you can close a deal, then celebrate – or crash – steeped in Wall Street’s brute/chic notion of comfort and style.
Rooms: The king-bed room I saw was sleek, serene and spacious, rendered in black (the stone-clad bathroom) and white (the sleeping area), with a recycled oak floor, a white platform bed and a modern lilac side chair that swiveled.
But for a master-of-the-universe moment, I vote for the large king, an innovative multitasker. Besides a large open bathroom with a stall shower, soaking tub and a frosted glass window overlooking the sleeping area (the toilet is discreetly closeted), the room features a nifty floor-to-ceiling cube that spins to display a closet on one side, a minibar on another, bathrobes on another and, the grand finale, a full-length mirror. The long white desk is just as versatile: at one end, a large writing surface; at the opposite, the flatpanel TV, backed by a mirror to create an instant vanity.
Bonus: All rooms come with window seats – and those on high floors have harbor views.
Food and drink: Dina Rata, the American bistro that replaced Wall and Water, is elegant and spare, a spiritual continuation of the lobby’s contemporary style, with sleek leather banquettes, Carrera marble counters and those unpolished recycled oak floors. The menu is pure locally sourced with an emphasis on the Hudson Valley and in warmer months includes fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market that sets up shop on the grounds every week. A beer garden with tables, benches and umbrellas serves drinks during warm-weather months.
Amenities: The Andaz is user friendly; lobby soft drinks, water and coffee (Gilles Coffee beans), minibar snacks and drinks (sans hard liquor), WiFi, phone calls and newspapers are all comp. Nightly wine hour. The fitness center is large and well equipped. The hotel also has a spa. C.O. Bigelow bath products. Pillow menu available on request. Dimmers are used throughout the rooms. The nifty desktop outlets disappear when not in use.
Surroundings: The heart of the Financial District: the Andaz is named for the street where it stands and is steps away from hard-core financial institutions like the New York Stock Exchange and the Fed. Historic New York City, embodied by Fraunces Tavern Museum, the South Street Seaport Museum’s tall ships and the area’s narrow, winding streets is also alive in the surrounding blocks. The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and Ground Zero are nearby, too. Downtown destinations like Tribeca, SoHo, the Lower East Side, Greenwich Village and the Meatpacking District are reached easily by subway and/or bus or taxi. (The subway stop is two blocks away.) Midtown Manhattan is 20 minutes away by subway. Brooklyn is also easily accessible by subway or, should you decide to use all facets of the Brooklyn Bridge, foot or bike.
Back story: As mentioned above, this pink stone 600,000 square-foot tower at 75 Wall Street started life as headquarters for JP Morgan Chase. In 2007, it was purchased for $175 million by veteran real estate developers Joe and Ben Hakimian for conversion into a hotel/condominium hybrid. True to plan, the building opened in early 2010 with 350 luxury condos on the top 24 floors and the 250-room hotel, operated by Hyatt’s new Andaz group, on the lower floors.
Andaz, a mini chain of luxury business hotels with boutique hotel attitudes about design, individuality and style (“casual luxury with service” is the mantra), launched in 2007 with the Andaz London, billeted in the deeply renovated Great Eastern Hotel in the East End near the Financial District. The name means “personal style” in Hindi and if the model is Starwood’s W hotel group, Hyatt’s Andaz hotels have updated the model with an emphasis on organic, green and sustainable accoutrements, open kitchens in the restaurant and complimentary amenities, like WiFi, minibar soft drinks and snacks and coffee and soft drinks in the lobby.
Keep in mind: For all the warm intentions, this skyscraper hotel can feel sterile. Some rooms have a window in the shower overlooking the sleeping area; though the window steams up, such rooms may not be a great idea for families.